So, after three months of fretting about whether to sign up and three months of typing away feverishly, my Open University course is over. And I passed which pleases me. It's encouraging to have an objective point of view. My tutor thought I should pass so she must believe that I have learned enough to demonstrate some level of skill.
But what next? By the end of the course there were only a handful of dedicated students still commenting on each other's work and so when someone suggested that we all keep in touch we leaped at the chance. A group of like minded people all trying to realise a dream and looking for help, inspiration and support on the way.
I don't know these people although I have spent three months bearing my creative outpourings, if not my soul, to them on line. I wouldn't recognise them if I passed them in the street. And yet these are the people that I have chosen to expose my soft underbelly to.
Perhaps it is the anonymity of the group that makes me feel safe. I know next to nothing about their daily lives and vice versa but I respect their views on what I produce and have a genuine interest in their writing. But is is a safe environment for me to explore. If at any time I start to feel vulnerable or lacking in self confidence I can withdraw - something that would be much harder if I open myself up to the people in my day to day life. And the honesty of the group is difficult to replicate elsewhere. It would be unlikely for my friends to sit and look at me across a cup of cappuccino and tell me that my ideas are old hat and my prose stilted. But my virtual friends can give me their worst because they have nothing to lose. And that is the whole point of the group.
I have been far braver with what I have done so far than I could ever imagine I would be. Exposing my blog to my facebook friends was a surprising step for me. And then regularly reminding people that I was engaged on the course was unnervingly uncharacteristic. Finally, posting my final piece here for all to see is something that I could never have even contemplated this time last year. I have been surprised by my confidence but I do not regret my actions even if there is more of me exposed than I would usually allow.
So, for the time being that is how I will progress, little by little, feeling my way. And it's exciting and I can't knock that.